The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
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The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Aaaaand we’re back again this week! What a weekend hey. How good is it having Super Rugby back? And with the return of Super Rugby comes the return of some TT5 staples, the Good, Bad and Ugly and the Report Card, where we give out grades that we think the teams deserve. Feel free to disagree, I know you probably will  :-) We also have some stats from the opening round to pore over and then we talk Wallabies. Who played, who rested and who got injured and who do we think should be in consideration.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – We have a couple of goods from this weekend. Firstly, how good was it to see a packed crowd for the Waratahs match? It’s been a while since that many people went through the turnstiles to watch the Tahs play. It was also good to open up the Aussie Super Rugby campaign with a game that didn’t totally suck. People might have been expecting the Rebels v Brumbies match to be a dull, stop start, error ridden affair like we are used to, but it actually proved to be a pretty entertaining game.

Bad – Unfortunately, the opening round also posed some big concerns for supporters. The Brumbies bombed some tries, their lineout was a mess and defensively they were pretty appalling. The Waratahs managed to throw away a game against the Canes without Beauden Barrett who was serving one of his mandatory rests for the All Blacks. It was a home game, in front of a packed crowd and they just couldn’t do it. Passes out over the sideline, dumb penalties when in possession and poor lineouts. Hopefully they, like the Brumbies, will have learnt from that and improve for next week.

Ugly – Injuries. I had hoped we wouldn’t get into this this early on in the season. During the Rebels v Brumbies we saw Pocock leave the field after 5 minutes with a head injury, he is out for at least next week. The harsh reality is, that as good as Pocock is, perhaps the Brumbies need to consider addressing his prone-ness to injuries. Whether that means resting him more or using other players more at the breakdown, moving Poey to 6 or 8 – I don’t know. Less than 5 minutes after losing Poey, the Brumbies also lost Pulu with a fractured cheek. He will be out for anywhere between 6 weeks and the whole season depending on surgery. Henry Speight also limped off with a hip injury, at this stage I don’t know how bad/minor an injury it was.

Not only that, but there were some who didn’t even make it to the opening weekend before picking up injuries. From the Brumbies (again) Lausii Taliauli injured a knee during a trial match, though he should be set to return this week. Others picked up injures without even playing a preseason match (glad the clubs have been asked to wrap the Wallabies players in cotton wool, protect them, send them to Wallaby camp instead of preseason, only for 3 players to pick up calf injuries while at camp!) with Coleman and Phipps still awaiting a return. Plus there are still some injuries hanging over from last year. Hopefully that’s it for the season now, if the Rugby Gods are listening, we’d like a nice, safe, injury free season from now on thanks!

Brumbies vs Waratahs 2ndHalf _0003_2014_03_15_10342

 

Report Card

Brumbies D: There were some glimpses of what they can do, but they were few and far between. Poor kicking choices inside the 22 (WTF was Simone thinking?!!) very poor defence, especially down the wing and an unusually poor lineout all left the Brumbies looking lost. Especially disappointing given they actually got off to an ok start. Injuries didn’t help things, but it was the basics that let them down. Looking for the positive, they are things that can be worked on. Hopefully.

Rebels B: They did the basics, and did them well. They made it difficult for the Brumbies backs to find any space and their forwards held up better than many were expecting. The Genia/Cooper combo looked good, and gave the back line some of the structure they were missing last year. Their forwards went better than I think many expected, and while they lost a couple of scrums, they were still pretty competitive. Their running attack is dangerous, and with a near full Wallaby backline it isn’t really surprising.

Waratahs C: I considered giving them a C-, but they were in control for much of the game. Their defence was shaky at times, but they looked good in attack when they were running and the Canes hadn’t had a chance to get their defence set. That’s when they looked really dangerous. The Tahs still gave away too many penalties, and some pretty dumb ones at that. Kepu being pinged for coming in the side when they had the ball in attack is just one example. Lots of room to improve.

 

Holloway nicks a line out.

Holloway nicks a line out.

 

Stats and Stuff

 

 

Brumbies Rebels Waratahs
Tries 4 5 1
Metres 353 390 321
Carries 102 93 102
Passes 111 97 136
Offloads 7 6 6
Defenders beaten 22 15 19
Clean breaks 13 13 4
Kicks in play 29 25 23
Turnovers conceded 13 15 14
Tackles 97 114 123
Missed tackles 15 22 20
Rucks won 70 (95.9%) 50 (96.2%) 75 (96.2%)
Turnovers won 7 5 7
Penalties 6 11 14
Lineout success rate 79% 100% 77%
Scrum success rate 100% 86% 75%
Possession 54% 46% 47%

 

Looking across the stats it really hard to find anything that really stands out. Across the board they look fairly comparative in terms of the way they played. Is there finally some consistency of performance and application across Aussie team? Pfft, nah it’s just coincidence.

Looking at the Brumbies stats it would be fair to ask how they lost. With better possession and defenders beaten it suggests that they had opportunities on attack but couldn’t get over the line. Is this endemic of individuals creating opportunities but not having the support to convert? What the stats don’t tell you is that they were so exposed defensively on the wings that there were no opportunities to tackle let alone miss the tackle. Is the defensive issue due to the Brumbies not having a defence coach until 2 weeks before the start of the season? The other thing that is apparent is for a team that has a “no-fear” attacking game plan there appears to be a lot of kicking.

The Rebels forward pack that was identified as a potential weakness pre-season stood up and made sure the backline did have front foot ball and competed with the Brumbies in the line out nullifying the predicted dominance in the forwards. The stats do suggest that the Rebels are going to play with ball in hand more than the other teams this year.

Rebels-Reds-Trial-2019-003

The Tahs might be a little light on the run metres but considering they decided to take points from penalty kicks it explains the slightly lower numbers. This year again shows they are not scared to use the ball, passing more than the other teams. The lighter forward pack shows through in the stats and will be an area of concern. The discipline issue sadly is the standout stat for the Tahs and you can’t help but wonder how many points it’s costing them.

 

Wallaby RDO’s

We have all read the reporting about the Wallabies being strategically rested in the lead up to the RWC. How that will impact each team is certainty generating conversations. Like many of you we are curious to see how it will be managed. To help us track who is rested and when we have put together a quick spreadsheet which we will update each week. With Pocock’s injury we have decided to also track injury where possible

In deciding who we would track we have decided to only track the Wallabies players we term as being in the “formal” conversation. That means the players we think would be on the plane today if the squad was picked or will be told to have bags packed and be on standby.

We also decided we might will make a few simple observations on individual performances each week.


 

As its week one we will ease in to this with just a few comments and be gentle.

Who stood out: Genia – Clearly stood out above the rest and his game management was fantastic.

Raised questions: Jermaine Ainsley. There are still questions if he should be in the conversation at all and playing against the strong Brumbies scrum didn’t help his cause.

Blotted his copy book: Israel Folau. He does some good things but then basic skill execution lets him down.

General observations:

Samu – looked good.

Maddocks – good handling, read the ball well. Good at being in right place at right time (I guess that’s a skill in itself).

DHP – ok, didn’t do much wrong, didn’t stand out.

Kepu – WTF! Dumb penalties, dropped ball, he looked anything BUT a Wallaby.

Foley – nothing spectacular, as expected. Goal kicking practice will be required but hey, he only missed one.

KMP-WAR-RED-49526 foley

The other Wallabies conversation

Now to the broader “informal” conversation. In this RWC year there are some names that might be pushing for Wallabies squad inclusion or at least on standby to cover injuries.

So let’s get the hot topic. The short answer is off the back of a season out based on his performance on Friday night I would argue that Quade has pushed in line ahead of Christian Lealiifano. Back with the familiar pairing with Genia is a huge advantage to him and certainly helped his prospects. I think if QC keep improving, Lilo’s RWC chances will be over by mid-season.

Quade-G&G-Wallabies-Barbarians-50887

Matt Phillips is the lock I think should be in the conversation. In recent times he has been the lock that makes metres and is a pretty good operator at line out time.

McCaffery’s performance on the weekend should have him on the Wallabies radar if they need cover or a different option. He worked well with Samu and has been a consistent performer when he has been given the opportunity.

Karmichael Hunt. Controversial, divisive, but he did the job for the Tahs and still has something to offer.

  • Who?

    LOVE the Wallaby minute tracker – great idea!!! It’ll be fascinating to see how the workloads are managed. How successfully they’re managed…
    Completely agree on Ainsley.
    Gotta note, though, the Rebels made more metres in possession than the other teams, but they had (significantly) the fewest runs, passes and defenders beaten. Further, by percentage of possession, they kicked just as frequently as the Brums (both teams kicked slightly more frequently than the Tahs). Genia and Cooper as a combination had a very successful partnership back in the day, and they actually kicked more than people remember… It would be very surprising to me if a team including those two, plus DHP, Hodge, etc and eventually Toomua, didn’t have a strong kicking game plan.
    The Brums, by percentage of possession, ran the least, but the Tahs are the kings of the carry, running as many times as the Brums with barely any more possession than the Rebels. They’re also princes of the pass, passing more than anyone else.

    • Jason

      A couple of years ago trying to understand the daft playing & selection policies that have been Michael Cheika I tracked the Wallabies minutes and playing time etc for the squads. Didn’t help in understanding Cheika’s selection policies.

      • Who?

        I’m not expecting it will help with understanding Cheika. But I’m also not expecting that the most selected Wallabies’ playing minutes will be as well managed as intended, either…

    • Huw Tindall

      Reds kicked most in the whole competition the year they won it I believe?

      • Who?

        Second most – kicked 44% of possession. Crusaders kicked 45% of possession that year. :-)

        • Jason

          To be fair it wasn’t so much Genia and Quade who dictated they kick so much – a kick is only as good as the chase and the Reds had some of the best kick chases in the game.

        • Who?

          Exactly – it was intelligent, varied and attacking kicking. It was coached, it was clever, it was effective. Just as it was for the Crusaders.

        • Ed

          The Reds had a coach who planned different tactics for their opponents, not just one method to play the game.
          Such a loss to the game in Oz.

  • Jason

    Karmichael Hunt — The bloke was told to make sure his calendar is clear the minuet he signed with the Waratahs. The ‘Tahs probably tried to write into his contract that he’ll be in the World Cup Squad until it was pointed out that isn’t *supposed* to be how it works.

    • Simon

      Agreed, the only way Hunt won’t be in the RWC squad now is injury or another late-night adventure.

      That’s not to say his form won’t warrant it – he could be an excellent 12 at the RWC and also cover 15. But let’s face it, that sky blue jersey is an added bonus.

      • Jason

        Oh, I think he’s got about a 75% to be there on merrit, but his selection is all but assured now that he’s in sky blue.

  • NSWelsham in London

    Loving the “other Wallabies conversation” and agree with you on the selections. How Hannigan can be considered above McCaffery is beyond me and i wonder when some of these names will make it to the real list and others drop off…

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      When Cheika goes mate

  • Huw Tindall

    Welcome back MSTs! Good to have you with us for another season.

    Wallaby RDO is a great addition! Love it.

    Like the ‘informal’ discussion too. Some real debate there.

    Agree on Phillip and McCaffery. He outplayed Naisarani IMO.

    Hunt definitely should be in the conversation. Tahs defence stats show it with 86% tackle success and bugger all breaks through the mid-field. Pairing with AAC the defensive line seemed really well organised and effective. In addition he had some great runs and reminded me of McMahon with his post contact metres due to leg drive. I’d honestly leave Beale on the bench or run at 15 right now. Foley can run the show from 10 well enough and doesn’t need Beale coming into first receiver half the time. Hunt has a good enough pass to get it wide anyhow.

    Would also put Holloway no the edge of the discussion. He put in a massive shift on Saturday as the primary Tahs ball runner. Great in the lineout and can play 80 mins. Phillip definitely ahead of him but a full year in the second row could be the making of Holloway. He’s could also be a 6/8 but I think he needs to pick and stick to a position. Gibson said they had him down this year for the second row so let’s see how it plays out.

    • Who?

      Not holding my breath on Holloway… I think he’d be a great 8 for us, but the history is that Cheika doesn’t like him. Didn’t catch Cheika’s eye when Cheika was at the Tahs, didn’t catch his eye in his breakout season in 2017… And playing lock, he won’t make it. We have some pretty handy options there (Coleman, Rodda, Arnold, Simmons, Philip, etc).

      • Huw Tindall

        Yeah he is an outside chance for sure but I’d keen to see the full year at second row. A lot of handy options for sure but Coleman hasn’t lived up to the hype for mine. Rodda I think is our most consistent second rower and first picked. Coleman in the box seat based on past performance but I could see him being usurped at some point.

        • Who?

          I really don’t want Holloway at lock. I just wish Gibson had managed to recruit some locks… I’d much rather see him at 8. He’s more naturally suited to the role. He was a loose 8 (like Higgers), now he’s playing lock, so his game’s tightening up. But switched back to 8, he’d be the tight 8 we need.
          Rodda’s got potential, but he spent a lot of time clueless at the ruck last year. He had no idea whether to engage, or stay out, or what to do. And he got smashed by a fly half. I agree Coleman wasn’t as his best last year. But we’ve got enough good options, they just need better coaching. Especially at the top level (Rodda was arguably better for the Reds than the Wallabies).

        • Huw Tindall

          Yes that’s the biggest indictment on Gibson tenure IMO – failure to recruit locks. Maybe Holloway could excel at either lock or 8. He started pro rugby life at 8 and looks more naturally suited to his but I wouldn’t rule him out from a tilt at second row just yet. With my Tahs hat on I’m just glad he is there right now.

          Potential is the key word for all our second rowers I think – lots of it but none have truly stepped up and become a force and automatic first pick. Rodda and Coleman are still young so another year should do them well. Only one game into the season and lots more to look forward to!

        • Who?

          He’s handy for the Tahs, but leave Lukhan FKA (Formerly Known As) in the locks and let Holloway rule the loose paddock. :-)

        • John Tynan

          I’d have Jones and Dempsey in 6 ahead of Lukhan.
          Sounds like I do need to keep more of an eye on Dempsey when watching games, previously hasn’t really caught my eye either.

        • Brumby Runner

          Dempsey suffers from the Waratah ailment. Too bloody small for test match rugby. But it won’t keep him out of Cheika’s team unfortunately. While Dempsey plays with obvious passion, any of Lukan, Jones, Philip, McCaffrey and potentially Valetini would be better test match candidates for the No 6 spot.

        • Ed

          Holloway offers more at 8 for the Wallabies than at lock. He is not a test second rower. I agree Phillip and Mcaffery were two of the best last Friday.

          I didn’t know the Brums didn’t have their defensive coach until a fortnight ago.

          What was a wee disappointing was the crowd. You could not ask for better conditions to watch a match at Bruce. I wore shorts to the match, how often can I say that going to a Brums game?

      • Hoss

        Segall picked him on EOYT last year. He came home early due to injury. I reckon his in the mix.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Hey MST. Thanks for this and it just confirms all is right with the world. Super rugby, G&GR and now TT5. Life is good.
    No issues with the report. I’d also add Meakes to the potential list. I thought he was very good and really benefited from Quades organisation.
    I admit I’m at odds with a lot here as I thought Hunt was no more than ok. Ran hard but that’s his job, maybe it’s such a change from the sideways crab of Beale that it looked better than it was. Still thought he was out of position too much and he lacks instinctive knowledge of where to be.
    I’m not sure the Tahs deserve more than a C- as I’m not so sure they did control things as much. I thought firstly that Hurricanes mistakes provided them opportunities and worse, they didn’t take advantage of them. Happy for it to be either Tahs good or Canes bad but either way, not taking advantage of it is a minus score.

  • Brumby Runner

    Have to disagree, a rare situation MST, on the team ratings. Even on the stats, the Brumbies had the better game than the Tahs, but on the evidence of the eye the Brumbies/Rebels game was the highest quality match of the weekend involving Aus and NZ sides. On top of that, it was without doubt the weakest Hurricanes squad in living memory and they put in an abysmal performance. I’d put the ratings around the other way; Brumbies C and Tahs D.

    Great to see the RDOs. ATM it all looks to be very opaque. Maybe a running commentary will bring some transparency into the process.

    My TOTW from Round 1 :

    Slipper, Fainga’a, Ala’alatoa, Philip, Holloway, Cottrell, Hooper, Naisarani, Genia, Cooper, Muirhead, Meakes, Kuridrani, Maddocks, DHP.

    McCaffrey and Hunt were close but missed out to their respective opponents in the best performing team of the round, the Rebels.

    Wasn’t it comforting to see a No 10 take control of and manage the backline the way Quade did with the Rebels.

    I’m not so down on Simone’s grubber kick to Maddocks. Christian got the ball in space and should have belted it downfield. Instead he passed it on the Simone who was obviously on the wrong foot to make a big kick. He tried something but was not balanced enough to make it work. If the mantra of not being afraid to try something and fail works, he won’t be in any hot water with McKellar for trying.

    • BF

      hooper – FFS – he’s a myth (aka: Emperor’s New Clothes).
      Hardwick was the pick of the 7’s, and Samu were far superiror than hooper.

      I simply cannot understand the hooper B-S. the waratahs and wallabies would so much stronger if he wasn’t there!

      Can some one explain;
      – why he spends so much time on the wing?
      – when he hits a breakdown, hes always resting his chest on the back of an opponent (basic technique)
      – 66% of his tackles are passive
      – scrum time, he stands up, and loses his connection with his prop, the prop then loses his hips. (have a look at the waratahs and wallabies scrum. it’s nearly always the side hooper is on that struggles)

      But he runs around puffing his cheeks out all match – so he must be busy!!!!!!!

  • Bay35Pablo

    Waratahs “in control for much of the game”
    “Clean breaks … 4″
    We did SFA with it. That was the issue.

  • RugbyReg

    I am looking forward to watching those Player minutes through the season. A great addition thanks team.

    Of all those players you suggest as Wallaby contenders, Philip (single l, no s) is the one I think can make the most significant contribution. In fact I’d seriously consider having him at 6 in the Wallaby set up (and for the Rebels when Coleman is back).

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Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

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